Nope. It is not my birthday.
I was on LinkedIn this week sprucing up my profile and pruning my contacts. As I looked at each name on my connection list and debated whether I still really knew them professionally or not, I was struck by the uniformity of the titles. They read Manager, Vice President, Senior Member, Principal Engineer, Entrepreneur, Engineer etc. Most of these people are my age. I realized with a start that I was nearing the peak of my productive years. If I had to have made it big, it would have been by now. All of these people who I was looking at had risen steadily, some of them meteoric through their chosen career arcs. Some had veered off the traditional path and struck out on their own. Yet a few others pursued their vocations. When I closed the LinkedIn tab on my browser, there was one predominant feeling. Admiration.
Through the week, other things that appeared on my Facebook feed and Twitter timeline reinforced the notion. A friend from college turns 40 today. Another turned 40 a few weeks back. That it is my fortieth year has been in my thoughts a lot. I look back to my teens and twenties and realize I spent most of it harboring the thought that I was not beautiful. That I was unloveable. A lot of decisions were based on the fear that I will be married before I turned twenty. My view of the future was dim. The early twenties saw me blossom. It saw me fight body image issues and own my strengths. It was marginally better than the late teens. The late twenties and a good part of the thirties saw me anxious. Anxious to build a career, anxious to build a family, anxious to buy a home. Anxious to check items of a checklist I had mentally.
As I look ahead to my forties, I realize with relief that I am finally at that space mentally and physically where I am comfortable in my skin. I own my strengths. I am very aware of my shortcomings. I have a fair idea of how I want to live my life. I have a hazy plan in my head about what and where I want to focus my energies on. Yes, life can throw curve balls and I may have to re-calibrate but the good thing is I am accepting of that too. I also realize the next decade or two of my life will revolve around my children, years will merge and roll into one huge mass of sameness. And I am OK with that too.
In some sense I am looking forward to ringing in my forties. I have never felt better in my life. There is a sense of anticipation and a momentum that is refreshing. And that birthday is a-coming albeit a few months away.